Amphipols: Where from? Where to?
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I am often asked how the idea of amphipols came about. Now, exactly 20 years later, is perhaps a good time to recount the story. My main field of expertise is membrane biochemistry. The French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique(CNRS) was originally designed by its founders as a multidisciplinary research organization. Until its recent splitting into several institutes, it offered a particularly favorable environment for scientists of different backgrounds to develop original projects at the interface between their respective fields. In the fall of 1990, Paul Rigny, then director of its Chemistry Department, launched a series of meetings around the theme of “Organized molecular systems”, among which membranes feature prominently. Three interdisciplinary round-tables took place that year (chemistry/physics, chemistry/biology, biology/physics), followed, in 1991, by a big meeting in Bordeaux. The meeting itself was very formal and, to me at least, rather boring, but the...